NEW YORK — Facebook said Wednesday that it would acquire WhatsApp, a messaging startup, for $16 billion in cash and stock.
The eye-popping price is Facebook’s largest acquisition by far and marks a new height in the frenzy to acquire popular technology startups.
Facebook will pay $4 billion in cash and $12 billion worth of Facebook shares for WhatsApp. An additional $3 billion in restricted stock units will be granted to WhatsApp employees and founders. These units will vest over the next four years.
“WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, said in a statement. “I’ve known Jan for a long time and I’m excited to partner with him and his team to make the world more open and connected,” he added referring to Jan Koum, WhatsApp cofounder and chief executive Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.